For one reason or another, it’s not unusual for aging adults to struggle with personal hygiene issues such as dirty clothing, body odor, and general uncleanliness. That said, failing to practice good hygiene habits can place a senior at risk for social isolation, gastrointestinal problems, skin infections, and other health issues. If you are presently looking after an aging-in-place loved one who’s neglecting their hygiene, here’s how to get them back on track while respecting their privacy and dignity.
Signs of Poor Hygiene Habits
Due to factors such as depression, dementia, and pride, many seniors who don’t practice good hygiene habits also refuse to accept help.
Here are some telltale physical signs to watch for as a family caregiver:
- Unkept hair, including facial hair
- Long, dirty fingernails
- Unpleasant body odor
- Stained, disheveled clothing
- Skin with a greasy, dirty appearance
Other warning signs to for in your loved one’s home include:
- Stacks of dirty dishes in the sink
- Lingering furniture and carpeting stains
- Living space is messy, cluttered, and untidy
- Garbage piling up
What You Can Do to Help
Medication side effects, poor mobility, and a fear of falling can keep seniors from practicing good hygiene habits. Once you’ve identified the root cause, here’s how to get your aging loved one to take better care of themselves:
Politely share your concerns
Without putting your senior on the defensive, mention what you’ve observed and why you’re worried. After telling them how much they mean to you, offer your assistance. If they are still hesitant to accept help, ask siblings, other relatives, and close friends to chime in and share their concerns.
Be respectful of their privacy
Most older adults feel embarrassed about being naked around another person who’s bathing or dressing them. If bathing themselves is an issue, put your loved one at ease by:
- Speaking to them in a patient and reassuring tone
- Closing the door, curtains, and blinds
- Covering their body with a towel or blanket while they are getting undressed
- Letting them bathe as much as possible while only helping when necessary
Create a safer bathroom environment
The bathroom can be a very intimidating place for older adults. Create a safer environment for your senior by taking these steps:
- Installing grab bars in the shower and around the toilet
- Improving the lighting throughout the space
- Getting them a shower seat
- Adding a hand-held shower wand
- Placing a non-skid mat or decals in the tub
Stick to a bathing routine
Many seniors prefer to have a routine, especially those with dementia. While keeping in mind they may not want to bathe every day, ask your loved one what time for bathing works best for them.
Here are some reliable ways to establish a bathing routine:
- Bathe them during the day when they are most relaxed.
- Try to honor their wishes regarding a preferred time of day.
- Use the same process each time for undressing, washing, and teeth cleaning.
- Between baths or showers, use dry shampoo products to keep their hair clean.
- Give your loved one a less-invasive sponge bath.
Hire them a “personal assistant.”
When you’re busy or live far away, another option at your disposal is hiring a professional in-home caregiver from a reputable provider.
Once you do, your loved one’s new “personal assistant” can provide hygiene assistance for:
- Toileting and incontinence care
- Bathing and dressing
- Light housekeeping and laundry
Your Trusted Senior Home Care Partner in Fort Wayne, IN
Although discussing hygiene habits with aging loved ones is never easy, it is essential for maintaining their health, happiness, and independence. Senior1Care is your trusted partner in providing quality, compassionate home care services to seniors living in Huntertown, Leo-Cedarville, Grabill, Auburn, Bluffton, and the greater Fort Wayne area. Our experienced caregivers are trained to deliver professional, reliable care in the same respectful and friendly manner that they would treat their family members.
At Senior1Care, we understand that having a caregiver in your loved one’s home is a decision that requires trust. Our goal is to build relationships with clients by listening to their needs and providing the highest level of quality care possible. We are committed to helping your loved ones maintain their well-being, independence, and comfort. To learn more about our flexible caregiving options or schedule a FREE assessment for a senior in the greater Fort Wayne, IN, area, visit us by clicking here now.